NEW PALTZ — Legendary jazz singer and icon of the swing era, Anita O’Day, will perform in concert at SUNY New Paltz on Friday, April 15 at 8pm. O’Day’s concert is a premier event of the School of Fine & Peforming Arts and tickets are now on sale.
Anita O’Day is a singer’s singer. Highly rhythmic with a distinctive sense of phrasing, O’Day’s first appearances in a big band – in 1941 – shattered the traditional image of a demure female vocalist by swinging just as hard as the other musicians on the bandstand. She sang with Gene Krupa (Let Me Off Uptown, Boogie Blues and Just a Little Bit South of North Carolina), and Stan Kenton (1944’s And Her Tears Flowed Like Wine), among others. “Down Beat” magazine named O’Day “New Star of the Year” in 1941, in 1942, she was selected as one of the top five big band singers.
In the late’40s, O’Day struck out on her own. She teamed up with drummer John Poole, with whom she played for the next 32 years. She began performing in festivals and concerts with such illustrious musicians as Louis Armstrong, Dinah Washington, George Shearing and Thelonious Monk. O’Day also appeared in the documentary filmed at the Newport Jazz Festival in 1958 called Jazz on a Summer Day, which made her an international star.
Throughout the ’60s Anita continued to tour and record while addicted to heroin and in 1969 she nearly died from an overdose. O’Day eventually beat her addiction and returned to work. In 1981 she published her autobiography “High Times, Hard Times” which, among other things, talked candidly about her drug addiction.
“Incomparable” is really the only word to describe the fantastically good singing of Anita O’Dayý If improvisation is at the heart of jazz, then Anita O’Day is at the heart of vocal improvisationý Whether she gives three words to a note or spreads one word over a whole batch of them, one is constantly amazed at how fresh it sounds, how right it sounds and how consistently she surprises you. Even after repeated listenings to Anita O’Day improvisation, it is still next to impossible to anticipate that glittering embroidery that decorates (and is a trademark) of her effortless interpretation. -JOHN VOORHEES, Music Editor, Seattle Post-Intellegencer
O’Day has influenced many, including June Christy and Chris Connor, and now stands as a living legend. She recorded throughout the 1970s, ’80s, and ’90s, and remains an exciting, forceful vocalist on record as well as in concert.
Tickets to Anita O’Day in Concert at SUNY New Paltz are $27 adults, $22 senior citizens and students. A special block of premier seating is available at $42. These seats are located in the first ten rows of the center orchestra and they include a post-concert reception with Anita O’Day.
Tickets may be purchased online at www.newpaltz.edu/artsnews or by calling the box office at 845-257-3880.
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